Wisconsin lawmakers will vote next month on a bill that would give paper company Kimberly-Clark a $100 million tax incentive package in exchange for keeping hundreds of jobs in the Fox Valley.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Tuesday they will call an extraordinary session starting Nov. 12, with plans for the Senate to vote later in the month on a bill already passed by the Assembly.
It is still not clear whether the legislation has enough support to clear the Senate. Gov. Scott Walker said last month the bill would need bipartisan support in order to pass.
Walker said the call for an extraordinary session is a "major step forward" in keeping Kimberly-Clark's Fox Crossing plant open. The plant employs about 500 people.
"My message to Kimberly-Clark employees is simple: we are fighting for you. We are working together to keep your jobs in Wisconsin," Walker said in a statement.
Under the bill, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation could give Kimberly-Clark refundable tax credits equal to 17 percent of the company's payroll at its Neenah and Fox Crossing facilities. Kimberly-Clark would also be exempt from paying sales taxes on any building materials used for construction or development at those facilities, and would receive a 15 percent capital investment credit.
The legislation includes similar clawback provisions to the ones Foxconn is subjected to under its contract with the state. Any agreement reached between the state and Kimberly-Clark would be in effect for up to 15 years.
According to an estimate from WEDC, the company could receive between $7 million and $8 million per year under the bill.
Walker first proposed the arrangement in February, after Kimberly-Clark, which makes products including Kleenex tissue, Huggies diapers and Cottonelle toilet paper, announced plans to cut as many as 5,000 jobs and shutter or sell 10 plants globally. The Assembly approved the deal that month, but the Senate never took it up.
Kimberly-Clark had given lawmakers until Sept. 30 to act on the legislation before moving forward with its planned closures, but extended the deadline as talks with Walker and legislative leaders continued through the weekend.
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, criticized Republican leaders for scheduling the session after the Nov. 6 election.
"If Republicans were serious about helping workers in the Fox Valley, they would be having public hearings and votes right now, not after the election," Shilling said on Twitter. "Sen. (Roger) Roth already killed the Kimberly-Clark bill once. This latest delay tactic proves he's more focused on protecting his own job than the workers he is supposed to be representing."